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Not child’s play: Lillian Hellman’s classic ‘The Children’s Hour’

By Catawba student Taylor Kroop

Catawba College Theatre Arts presents Lillian Hellman’s classic drama The Children’s Hour in Hedrick Little Theatre on campus at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Feb. 21-25. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students, and free for Catawba students, faculty and staff members.

Originally performed on Broadway in 1934, The Children’s Hour explores how careers, relationships and lives are ruined when disgruntled student Mary Tilford starts an unfounded rumor. The entire community is quickly engulfed in a devastating firestorm of misunderstanding, accusation and hostility. With crackling dialogue, and Hellman’s impeccable sense of timing and suspense, The Children’s Hour is a searing, riveting play that exposes the insidious power of lies, and their capacity to breed ignorance, intolerance and fear.

Catawba Visiting Assistant Professor Tommy Foster directs the play, noting that “so much of the play is still relevant, the issues mirror today’s society: the power of a lie, the power that money buys you, how to get what you want by bullying, and how far some will go to deny others dignity just because of how they are born. I wanted to do this play to explore Hellman’s rich language, the truth of these characters, and this wonderfully dangerous coming of age story filled with gossip, naïveté and ferocity. It’s a powerful play about who we truly are, deep down, as a society and as human beings. It forces us to confront some very unpleasant truths.”

Charlee Beth Haddock, sophomore, notes that the most challenging part of playing the role of Mary Tilford, “is finding a balance between mean and bullying Mary with my friends and nice but manipulative Mary with the adults. It’s hard to convey that to the audience.”

Professor Foster continues, “I have a fantastic cast of inquisitive, bright, and generous young actors who are willing to dig deep, ask some difficult personal questions and truly reveal themselves. I treasure every second that I get with them.”

The cast includes: Charlee Beth Haddock from Florence, Ala.; Caroline Kirk from Ipswich, Mass.; Larissa Garcia from San Diego, Calf..; Anna Kate Hall from Asheville, N.C.; Zach Dietz from Panama City Beach, Fla.; Kayla Guffey from Clemmons, N.C..; Isabella Frommelt from Huntersville, N.C.; Linda Hughes from Gainesville, Fla.; Savannah Shaver from Salisbury.; Samantha Myers from Miami, Fla.; Jessica Pautz from Mooresville; Chaz Cable from Weaverville; Gracie West from Cary; Baylee Thielemier from Memphis, Tenn.; and Krissey Browder from Wilkesboro.

Students on the production staff include Peyton Glendinning from Panama City Beach, Fla., assistant director; Ada Valdez from Knightdale, stage manager; and Claire Raimist from Woodsboro, Md., assistant stage manager.

Professor Foster notes that The Children’s Hour challenges the audience to “look for themselves in each of the characters. It is easy to judge from the outside. It’s harder to discover where these people live in us and is that the person we want to be?”

For show tickets and additional information, visit www.catawba.edu/theatretix, call the box office at 704-637-4481 between 2-5 p.m. weekdays or email boxoffice@catawba.edu

NOTE: The Children’s Hour contains strong language and sensitive subject matter and is inappropriate for children. 

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